Saturday, February 28, 2015

Late Ice Walleyes

      As we reach the ending of our ice fishing season, we also come into one of the best times to fish, late ice. Late ice can produce some of the biggest fish of the season. I stress to people all the time, just as you get burned out from the frigid days of mid-winter, you need to find that second wind and capitalize on some great fishing.

         Walleyes specifically are now coming to life. They are headed toward shallow water and river mouths to get ready to spawn. Areas such as the Saginaw Bay, Little Bay de Noc, Lake Erie and other small bays around the great lakes are hotspots for monster Walleyes during this time of the year. These walleyes are coming in full force to spawn and they are hungry.


      Good walleye tactics that work for early ice can also be utilized during the late ice feeding frenzy. Walleyes are putting on the feed bags and eating everything in sight. Aggressive approaches to get the fish into closing distance, followed by a subtle wounded bait fish cadence is probably the deadliest tactic. I often tip a minnow head to a #7 Jigging Rap. Aggressive bright colors are my dish to serve when fishing dirty water near river mouths. If you get into clear water, a blue and silver pattern works like a charm.

           When the bite may be considered slow, I like to switch to something that makes a lot of noise. Often a rattle spoon tipped with a minnow head or wax worms is the trick to make those hog walleyes close the distance. Especially in dirty water, when visibility is low, additional noise can be the single determining factor that can take your day from average to awesome. You could also use a rattle trap to get a Walleyes attention. However I like to add a minnow head for scent and adding a minnow head to a rattletrap can effect its action.

      Keep in mind that Walleyes are actively feeding. Therefore they’re going to be looking for bait fish. The usual areas you find Walleyes during mid-winter have been abandoned due to lack of food. Walleyes will be targeting bait fish in shallow water, often near river mouth or bays. Find the bait fish, and you will find the walleyes.

      As the mid-winter days come to a close and Walleyes become more aggressive, these tactics are my go to. I hope you get the chance to catch the pre-spawn action that so many anglers pass up. Use these tactics and I guarantee you’ll put some nice fish on the ice. If you have any questions, comments or anything I missed in this article, feel free to email me at or get with me on Facebook. I love talking fishing and hunting and love to hear from readers and fellow outdoorsman. I hope these tactics help you on your next adventure on the ice. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off. As always, Stay Wild!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bear Hunting Over Bait

         For the first time Bear hunter, the art of Bear hunting can be frustrating. To get you started in the right direction it's important for me to tell you that Bear hunting can be frustrating. You have to go about Bear hunting like no animal you have ever hunted. There are many tips and tricks that I have learned the hard way that will help you on the right path of being a successful Bear hunter.
Auther with a public land Bear harvested in Michigan
       For the most part, most of my referencing will be towards public land Bear hunting, not to say these tips won't help for private land, but I have witnessed many successful harvests come from public land, including my own. I for one actually prefer hunting public land. Not because I think the bears are bigger, usually they are not, but because I can decide between key areas that give me the best advantage to harvesting a bear.
      One rule I always stick to when placing a bait site is to always walk into the wind to the bait. You can also walk with the wind crossing your face, but none the less, make sure the wind is not blowing towards the direction you believe the Bears will come from. This may seem like a no brainer to some, but it is very important for hunters just starting out. While we are talking about wind, it is also very important to know that bears can smell very well. It's believed they can smell up to ten times better than a deer. But a bear's nose is not the only nose to worry

 In most states, it is legal to hunt bear with hounds. With that being said, I dont think I have to explain what hounds hunt with. A hound can pick up a bear's scent from over a quarter mile away. That also means the bear sitting on your bait site. To avoid this fiasco from happening, it would be wise to make sure the next accessible road down wind of your bait site is far enough away. I have nothing against hunting with hounds, but imagine sitting in your stand and hearing half a dozen hounds coming your way. Make sure to utilize all mapping tools to make sure your bait site will not be comprimised by hounds from down wind.
ellite imagery is a great scouting tool.

     Satellite and topo imagery, accessible by the internet or your local geological service, can be the difference between a bear rug and tag soup. I use Google Earth and It gives me a good idea on areas where I should consintrate my scouting efforts. Like most, I have a full time job and cannot scout as much as I would like. Not to mention my Bear camp is three and a half hours away from where I live. While utilizing these tools makes scouting more convienent, it's best to know what terrain to look for.
       Areas of interest are swamps, marshes, thick timber, spuce and pine flats and hardwood islands in the middle of swamps. If you have any experience at looking at satellite imagery, you can usually tell the different between hardwoods and swamps. First of all, swamps will appear much darker. Water is also a key factor. Bears need water just like any other animal. If you can find areas with scattered blue berry bushes or other natural food sources, those are great areas for baits as well. Bear usually already frequent these areas and placing a bait in the area will add to the attraction and keep them in the routine of coming to that area. Having the right bait also helps greatly.
A sow and a cub using a bait site
      When placing bait on the ground, you have to keep in mind any regulations concerning the containment of the bait. In Michigan you are not allowed to use anything made of plastic, metal, glass, rubber or even crafted wood to contain bait on public land. To solve this issue, I contain my bait by placing two large logs next to each other, with about a one foot gap. I place my bait in the middle of those logs and follow up by placing smaller logs and sticks on top to cover the bait. That way raccoons and other woods dwelling critters can not get to the bait. Having the right bait helps greatly.
      I choose not to use any soft baits that can absorb water. Because I hunt public land and cannot contain my bait, I use corn, candy, and oates. Breads or doughnuts, although very effective, soak up water and go bad. This is bad when you can only bait a couple times a week. As I said earlier, my Bear camp is three and a half hours away from where I live, so I only bait two, maybe three, times a week.
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       Most bait hunters will tell you that you have to bait every day. I will tell you that is not true. Baiting every day is obviously going to help, however consistancy is the key. If you can only make it out to bait every two or three days, then do it exactly every two or three days. A bear frequenting a bait knows it's eating what a human is putting out. To keep bears coming in, they need to know that there is going to be bait there every two or three days, or however many days apart that you bait. Just last year, I harvested a bear after only baiting five times in about a month. Because I was consistant, I killed the bear an hour before dark on my first sit. So much for having to bait every day.
       Although everything I have mentioned up until now will help you in your efforts to harvesting a bear, one thing is key. You can have the right bait, stand site, bait consistantly and have all the top notch gear, but what bear hunting over bait is all about is confidence and patience. Confidence and patience are key to success. No matter if you kill a bear on the first sit ten years in a row, you have to be ready to wait it out and believe that all your preparation will pay off. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz with Michigan Gone Wild signing off. Be sure to check us out on Facebook, Youtube and at Stay Wild!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What is a Buck Rub?

 Simply put, a Buck rub is a marking left on a tree by a Whitetail buck. It’s really that simple. Or is it? You begin to ask yourself, why does the buck make the rub? Why does he make so many? What does it mean to him? What does it mean to other Bucks in the area? How can I use this to my advantage? Now we are getting into biology, social behavior and even chemistry. But believe me, it’s really simple.

A whitetail buck starts its year of antler growth in velvet. This is the soft coating that protects the antlers as they grow throughout the summer. Just before fall, the antlers will harden to a point where it no long needs the velvet. The velvet will start to itch and irritate the buck so bad that he rubs the velvet off of his antlers. This is where we get our first kind of rubs. I call them shedding rubs. These will most likely be in the buck’s core area. You will mostly find them in a concentrated area rather than on single trees with no others in sight. If you stumble across an area where you can see ten to thirty rubs in one area, you are probably in the buck’s core area. Those are great spots for morning hunts because the buck will surely be near there when he returns after a night of running around. 

Once a buck sheds his velvet, he never stops rubbing. Reasoning behind the rubs does however change. As the days get shorter and the moon phase triggers the onset of the rut, you will begin to see a lot more fresh rubs. These rubs are not shedding rubs. These are travel route rubs. When a buck leaves his bedding area to go feed or drink water, he will stop ever so often to rub trees and brush. He does this for the same reason an athlete will lift weights, to get stronger. His testosterone levels are rising with the diminishing light periods and he feels the rut closing in. He knows he will have to fight; therefore he prepares himself for battle.

Bucks will stop ever so often to rub trees. This creates a Rub Line! Although very underrated, the rub line has lead to the harvest of some monster bucks. With the right setup, rub lines can be far more effective than scrape hunting. A rub line shows the path that a buck likes to travel. This usually means he will be back if he is not already packed into another hunter’s freezer.

When a buck leaves a rub, he doesn’t just leave a visual sign post. He leaves his scent from his forehead glands on the rub as well. This lets other bucks know who’s leaving those rubs. Most of these bucks are familiar with each other. They spend nights in the same feeding areas and some of them may have even been in the same bachelor group during the summer.

Like a dog urinating on his property, a buck will make rubs in areas where he wants his presence to be known. This could be feeding areas, bedding areas or travel routes other deer use to get to and from bedding. Depending on how dominant he is, he will enforce his dominance with his freshly polished antlers he spent all summer growing.

I hope this certainly helps your understanding of a Buck Rub. Rubs can be a deadly tool for a Whitetail hunter. When hunting the big woods of Northern Michigan, this is how I get a jump on mature bucks in my hunting area, and you can do the same thing. If you have any questions about rubs and rub lines, feel free to message me at or on the Michigan Gone wild Facebook page. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off! As always, Stay Wild!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Early Season Bucks

 It is safe to say deer hunting has its many mysteries. Hunters are baffled every year by the new tricks deer will pull off to keep that everlasting reputation of being the elusive animal it is. Just when you think you have the game of deer hunting figured out, a deer will change course and do something so unexpected. But I have found that the most mysterious trend of this forest edge dwelling creature is how it can be at a certain place, at the exact same time, for days, just to not show up on opening day.  This brings the age old question into play once again, “Where did he go?”
Good Friend Charles Ormsbee With a Buck he harvested Oct. 1st 2011

                A whitetail, despite its reputation of being elusive, is a very social animal. A whitetail will roam the field edges all summer, playing, eating and for the most part not worrying. You can see the same trait during the winter as well. Most whitetails, during the winter months, will conjugate in areas where food is abundant and shelter is of plenty. When most hunters get fooled is when they scout a particular buck all summer only to have that deer vanish comes opening day. This can be brought on by many reasons. Pressure by small game hunters, the elevation of deer scouting by other hunter and even weather can affect this sudden shift in a buck’s pattern. But what most hunters don’t understand is this sudden lack of daylight movement is mostly the result of Mother Nature in all her perfection. To kill a mature buck, you must first respect the biology of his very being.

                A buck that is mature and has seen the battlefields of rut knows well enough what he is facing when November arrives. Just like a senior football player in high school has seen what it takes to compete, the buck will prepare for the arena of breeding rights. He will depart from his normal summer routine to his confines. This is usually somewhere he is safe and alone. Just like the senior football player lifts weights all summer to prepare for battle, a buck will spend the warm early days of fall rubbing trees to clear the velvet from his antlers. To a fine shine and in pristine condition for battle, the buck rubs the trees in his solitude, awaiting the frost tipped mornings of November. The buck will limit his movement, only feeding at night and bedding most of the day. Just like the Football player who waits in the locker room before the big game, the buck is focused and intent on being the superior buck of the land.
A mature northern Michigan buck in route to feeding just before dark.

                To kill a buck that primarily moves at dark, you have to think outside of the box. I do most of my deer hunting in the highly pressured Northern Michigan and on public land. I am consistently successful due to my hard work and some luck. I always tell other hunters, if you can kill a 3 ½ year old buck every year in Northern Michigan, you can kill a good deer anywhere.  Killing them early in the season takes patience and hard work. Pinning down a mature buck is not easy. In the big woods of northern Michigan, there are ample places for a buck to find solitude during the early part of fall. Finding these areas can be done by using satellite images, trail cameras and good ole fashion walking.

                Trail cameras are a weapon commonly used and for good reason. They have been increasing taxidermy bills since their first year in the woods. However, when referring to early season scouting, this is where they are most commonly misused. Hunters place them over food sources and mineral sites. This is fine if you want to get a good idea of the roster of bucks roaming the timber you hunt. But if you want to pin down a buck to kill in the early season, you need to get away from the food, for more reasons than one. For example, the reason I am writing this article, bucks will soon be nocturnal after the season opens. In most states this is around the first of October. Your night time pictures of bucks eating off your mineral sites will do you no good when trying to fill a tag. Finding where that buck is bedding and the trails he takes to food sources are key factors in early season success. You can accomplish this by moving your trail cameras away from the preferred food source, even if it is 100 yards at a time. Concentrate on lightly used trails coming into the food sources. Mature bucks very seldom use the same trails as does. Once you know the trail the buck prefers to use, move back farther until you get that buck on camera during daylight hours. I always say, for every 100 yards further you move back in the woods, you are giving yourself 5 to 10 minutes more shooting light.
A mature Northern Michigan buck harvest early October of 2013

A deer can bed as little as a 100 yards away from a food source, but I have found that here in northern Michigan, it is on average of a ½ mile. This means you are going to have to incorporate some other methods of scouting. If you are using trail cameras, you have obviously set foot in the woods you are preparing to hunt. Do not be afraid to wander a little.

When scouting on the ground, there are no wrong or right ways to do it. You walk and you look. Knowing what to look for will help decipher an area used by a mature buck. If you feel that you have stumbled upon an area a mature buck is using for bedding, turn around and walk out. The longer you are in there, the more scent you are leaving. With that being said, you will know a buck is using an area as bedding simply because there will be beds. There will also be multiple piles of deer droppings. The key to knowing if a mature buck harbors those woods is there will be multiple rubs. It will look almost as if a buck looked at an acre of trees and tried taking them all out. You won’t miss it.

Hunting these areas require tactfulness. Get in early in the morning, put the wind in your favor and set up an hour before dark. There is a good chance you will see that buck come back from his night feeding. When hunting these spots in the evening, it is crucial you walk in with the wind in your face. Once again, get in early. One trick I use to lure bucks out of bedding is a soft grunt call. This will get him curious and could get him off his feet long enough for you to get a shot. Your other chance of seeing him is when he decides to get up to go feed.

Just like your night time pictures have shown, he will be feeding at night. So you want to cut him off before he gets there, while there is plenty of legal shooting light. This is where the previous scouting techniques come into play and are crucial. So keep these tactics in mind the next time you are planning to pin down an early season buck.

This should give you a good idea of what you have been doing wrong or maybe what you have been doing right. There are different variations to this tactic. No one situation will be the same. Keep an open mind and think like the buck. I hope this helps you this upcoming deer season. If it does, be sure to message me at, or on our Facebook page. You can also check out our website at  This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off. Stay Wild!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mid-Winter Walleyes


                One of the most sought after game fish here in Michigan could be easily argued to be Walleye. Michigan has many favorable hotspots to catch these marble eyed water dwellers. Early ice and late ice are the recommended times to target Walleyes during hard water. Mid-winter however is the lull as most Walleye anglers would refer to it. Most walleyes by this time, mid-January to late February, have moved to deep water and have begun to almost lay dormant. That does not mean you cannot catch them. It simply requires a little more attention to detail and planning.

                After the early ice action most anglers jump to in December and a minute part of January, the walleyes will tend to move outward into deep water basins. Depending on the lake, this can be 15 to 60 feet of water. Targeting Walleye in the deeper parts of a lake is a matter of finding structure. This could be a reef that extends from shallow waters or even the slightest depth change in 30 feet of water. I have targeted walleyes in smaller lakes where they will hang out just far enough from a 20 foot drop off. You can find Walleyes on even a 2 foot break line seven miles out on a big bay. The point I’m getting to is Walleye like structure. They are a predator fish. Although they are not very active during the Mid-winter lull, they will still feed.

                Walleye use break lines for cover and as ambush point. A walleye using a sharp twenty foot drop just off a reef will feed actively during the morning and evening hours.  The bait fish seeking nymphs and other organism in the soft bottoms near those shallow water reefs will now become the food for the Walleyes. These are great areas to fish during the low light periods of the day. Once the sun gets over the tree line, the Walleyes will move to deeper water. If you don’t feel like moving with the walleyes to deeper water through mid-day, you can capitalize on some good perch action.

                When fishing for Walleyes in the deep water basins, you are going to have to be patient. For one, you are going to have to get almost right on the fish. Once the Walleyes get to the deep water for the day, they are not going to be as active as say a lake trout, which spends the day cruising and looking for food. You may have to drill ten to thirty holes before you find the fish. Walleyes will tend to stay within a couple feet of the bottom out in these deep water basins. I have find that locating the fish is only half of the equation. Getting a mid-day Walleye to bite is a trick in its self.

                I almost always start out with something noisy or flashy, or a combination of both. Jigging baits that rattle or put off a lot of flash will get the Walleyes attention and coax them into coming in to get a closer look. At this point I will put a second rod in the water, with a more subtle jig or spoon or I just real up one line and drop the other down. Getting the Walleyes in close can be easy most days, getting them to bite requires attention to detail. I have marked ten walleyes that came in to my rattling spoon before one actually hit the bait. Knowing what the fish want on that particular day comes down to a lot of tying lures and sifting through favorable colors.

                I know this has been very short and to the point but I have been getting a lot of questions from fishermen who have a hard time putting Mid-winter Walleyes on the ice. There are far more informative articles out there but I wanted to give my two senses. Just remember, think like a Walleye, study them and please don’t forget, Walleyes have a brain the size of a pea. Do not over think Walleye fishing. If you are not marking fish under you, move. If they will not bite when you are marking them, change the bait. It’s all a matter of finding the fish, and finding what they like. I sure hope this helps. If you have any more questions, email us and or message us on facebook. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off! As always, Stay Wild!




Scouting For Deer in Spring

By the time early springs hits, I’m usually fed up with the cold days spent on a bucket, jigging a rod. By the time I pull out my Steelhead gear, I’m also pulling out topo and satellite maps. I’m locating areas that I would like to scout or areas I hunted the previous year. I’m looking for bottle necks, marshes, acorn ridges and any other area that will concentrate deer movement. One can only do so much scouting from home. Putting the boots to the ground is the sure scouting tactic that any hunter can do. There is so much information that can be gathered during this time and you don’t have to worry about pressuring the deer.

When afield I’m looking for old scrapes and rub lines. Although the deer may have been harvested the year before, their past presence tells me a lot about how the deer use that area. Maybe there is an oak ridge not too far away or a clear cut where deer feed on tree buds and shoots. In some areas where there could still be snow on the ground, you can see deer trails a lot better. These trails usually lead to or from bedding and feeding. As you start getting an idea of how the deer use the area you are in, you can start planning stand sites. I always carry my GPS so I can mark waypoints at different trees I could get my climber into. For one area, I can get a pretty good idea of how the deer use the land in just a short day.

Being able to see firsthand an area you have looked at on maps or never really got the chance to scout properly in seasons past can really pay off when you return to those areas to hunt. One huge advantage of scouting out of season is you are not pressuring the deer. You can walk miles in circles and still not have half the effect on the deer as you would during the season.

Aside from being a great scouting tactic, its great exercise. Just a couple days walking in the woods will have your legs ready to take on all the hard work you are going to put in during the summer. If anything else, at least you are getting outside. Getting into the great outdoors and shaking off the cabin fever. Spring weather after a cold winter never comes fast enough. Take advantage of it. There should be no down time in your schedule if you want to be a successful Deer hunter. I’m always scouting topo maps, reading articles, or scouting on foot. Where I hunt in Northern Michigan, luck only gets you so far. I Hope this gets your brain wrapped around Whitetails. If you would like any other information on scouting during spring, message me at or on Facebook. I love talking Deer and Deer tactics. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off! As always, Stay Wild!